Here are two links that i found useful on tumblr search, there are quite a few useful tumblr pages you can follow for DIY projects relating architecture and home decorations. 



Source: tumblr.com

roof - the main roof structure comprises 23 ibeams specified and supplied by Finn Forests.  These lock onto the front ‘kerto‘ front face beam with heavy dutysimpson joist hangers.  The kerto comprises 2 x 90mm beams that bolt together and lock onto the ‘heartwood’ douglas fir uprights that support the roof and the doorframes.  Between each ibeam we fitted 330 mm of high performance ‘non itch’ eco insulation from YBS Insulation.  This was selected because it is manufactured from recycled plastic  bottles.  A heat reflecting vapour membrane called dupont airguard is fitted above the plasterboard of the ceilings and the roof void is vented at the top.  The roof covering is TPO supplied by Flag UK, which is suitable for potable drinking water collection, versatile and very durable.  The rotunda was slated by a local artisan and we incorporated salvaged copper for guttering and capping.  We also used sheeps wool insulation from Second Nature.

floor finishing – the final floors are hand poured earth cement floors which are sealed with penetrating hard oils.  Each room uses a different natural pigment from either Morroco or Zanzibar.  The earth and pigment gives character to each room, while the oils and cement makes the floors extremely hard wearing.  The kitchen and bathrooms are exceptions with large limestone slabs fitted straight on top of the concrete sub floor.  This is the same limestone as is used to form the whole of the outside terrace. 

Here is a video of their finished home: http://youtu.be/3tFJa2aHgN4

also a book they have written: http://www.groundhouse.com/groundhouse-build-cook-book/

Source: groundhouse.com

Construction details on Daren Howarth and Adi Nortje’s recycled home

internal walls – constructed from solid upright timbers bolted to the floor and ceilings.  One side is skinned with fermacell, providing a very strong and stable structural ‘plasterboard’ made form recycled paper.  The walls are infilled with lime using a shuttering technique.  Although very time consuming, the result is a 90mm thick solid wall that provides both thermal mass and acoustic insulation between rooms.  It also provides an attractive timber and lime face to one wall of the bedrooms.  We also built external and internal bottle walls which provide beautiful lighting effects in sunlight and when lit at night.  Tips on building these are in the short clip

Source: groundhouse.com

Construction details on Daren Howarth and Adi Nortje’s recycled home

external walls – construction follows the tried and tested ‘earthship’ rammed earth wall building technique using tyres as formers for the rammed earth.  Around 150 tonnes of rammed earth is used in the external walls. The result is a wall which is indestructible.  The rammed earth is also enclosed in 100mm of underground insulation which acts as a ‘blanket‘ enabling the walls to act as giant storage heaters for the building.  We chose foamglas as the main underground insulation.  Although expensive, this board insulation is made from 80% recycled glass and is completely stable indefinitely.  Damp proofing is achieved using visqueen ecomembrane, providing a permanent 0.5mm barrier around the entire walls and under the floors.

Source: groundhouse.com

Built from trash

There´s bottles and cans and tires and paper. Lots of paper.

And the name of the website says it all — www.builtfromtrash.com.

A pair of women in West Virginia have taken what many consider trash and created a home that´s chiefly build from discards and donations.

Carrie Ross-Stone and Elisia Ross-Stone went looking for some inexpensive land years ago and settled on a six-acre track of land in 2003 in Wallace, W.Va., about 26 miles from Clarksburg, the nearest “big city.”

From there, the sent off to create — through plenty of hard work — a home for themselves that´s made from recyclables, by financial necessity and by design.

Using a mobile home as the basis for construction, the pair expanded the structure on both sides by eight feet by using old tires as a foundation and a mixture called “papercrete” that´s about half recycled paper and half clay-based soil for the exterior walls. There´s also a bit of Portland cement and Borax to fend off mold in that mix as well.

With the help of water, the women mixed the recycled paper, soil, cement and Borax to the consistency of oatmeal and poured the recipe into wooden forms. Batch after batch, mixed in a large galvanized bucket, was layered on top of each other and dried to form solid walls.

They placed recycled glass bottles, cut and duct-taped in a tube-like fashion, into the mixture before it dried to allow sunlight to find its way through the walls and into the interior of the house.

Aluminum cans, concrete and mortar were used to build the interior walls that were not load-bearing. The first row of cans was screwed to the floor and concrete or mortar was placed where the cans meet. From that initial row, cans were placed on top, like bricks, and cemented into place.

Salvaged and inexpensive wood helped build forms for the papercrete mixture. This wood also was used to build floors for the additions on either side of the structure as well as an exterior porch.

"Both of us have always wanted to do something, build our own house. We wanted to build our own house for the challenge of it," Carrie said.

Work is about 95% complete in the home, which is a source of pride for both women. “We never don´t appreciate it. à I walk up that hill everyday and look up and say that is just amazing,” Carrie said.

"It feels great to live in a house that you built with your own hands. Literally, bucket by bucket," Elisia said. "It´s awesome. I can´t believe it."

With the expense of housing these days, and the financial crisis that many Americans have gone through during the past few years, the women believe their path can be one way that people can afford their own homes.

"This is something we think people could do if they had the desire to do it," Elisia said.

While they started with a mobile home as the basis for their structure, the outside walls of that home were removed once the additions were finished on either side. Now, walking into the enlarged home, it´s hard to tell the house was once a trailer, they said.

"I do not walk in this house without appreciating how wonderful it is," Carrie said. "Maybe it´s not a palace to some people, but it´s a palace to us. Better than we thought it would turn out. You can live very well and build your house for almost nothing."

The women spent $6,000 for six acres of land and then spent another $10,000 during the ensuing years to construct their own house that´s built, as they say, from trash.

Along with salvaging materials for an old school that was being torn down, the women were able to pick up discarded and inexpensive lumber from a home improvement store as well as mistakenly mixed paint that was also inexpensive.

"We try to stay aware of our own environmental and societal impact and we feel like we have the ability to make change ourselves and not wait for other people to change things for us," Carrie said.

Contact Waste & Recycling News senior reporter Jim Johnson at 937-964-1289 or jpjohnson@crain.com

(Feb. 7, 2011)

Source: wasterecyclingnews.com

One of the most sustainable ways to acquire materials for building a house is to collect parts from soon-to-be demolished homes. You can save money from buying new lumber, which in turn will prevent deforestation, and you can recycle other materials like doors, windows, and bricks that would otherwise continue to fill up landfills.

But perhaps you’re not sure how to go about deconstructing a house. Read ahead to find out how to safely deconstruct a home and build with reclaimed lumber, instead of destroying and ruining precious building materials.

How to Deconstruct a House

I live at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage , which is in the depopulated northeastern corner of Missouri. Nearby towns are brimming with abandoned and derelict houses and buildings, and builders at Dancing Rabbit frequently acquire lumber for their own homes from these sources.

Here’s an article describing how to deconstruct an old house and recycle the lumber for building . As is explained, buildings are constantly being demolished, but oftentimes you can track down the owners and convince them to let you deconstruct the building.

You will need but a few tools, and possibly a few friends, and then you will rake in the rewards of acquiring free building materials. You too can investigate the abandoned buildings in your area and learn which are ripe for deconstructing.

Deconstruction versus Destruction

More frequently than not, houses and derelict buildings are destroyed — smashed to smithereens, so that none of the materials can be used again, and then everything is sent away to a landfill.

In fact, 30-40% of all landfill waste is construction and demolition debris  in the United States. Why ruin perfectly good materials and then throw them away? Unfortunately, it’s much easier to simply destroy a building rather than to take it apart.

There is much to be gained in using recylced building materials : you can save money, prevent deforestation, and reclaim materials that would otherwise end up as trash.

(Image credit: flickr via webschepper )

Green Building Elements (http://s.tt/15cAt)

Source: greenbuildingelements.com

Alternative & Crazy Home Construction Materials : Beer Cans, Tires & Cardboard

Alternative lifestyles and behavior can be influenced by one’s willingness to give back to the earth via environmentalism, or just to save a buck and fight the idealism of a capitalist society.

Such lifestyle decisions fuel the green movement and the market of everything from hybrid cars to self composting toilets. One way to save thousands of dollars and to live without the guilt of Gaia is to construct a house using alternative materials besides precious wood, polluting vinyls and foam insulation.

Some of these alternative housing methods are extremely useful to the earth, as everyday trash can be used to build an entire house, or a natural material can be used, and then recycled when the house is ready to be torn down.

Cardboard Homes

The chic cardboard house is no longer the domain of hobo’s and bums, but is now being called the Home of the Future. The idea of the cardboard home was to get away from technology and create a home with the most simplistic ideas. Cardboard is 100 percent recyclable. The first luxury cardboard home is being worked on in Australia.

Cardboard House

Some people may think it is a crazy idea because there is no other place where cardboard is used to build a home. All of the materials that will be used in the home will be recycled. Of course there will still be reinforced walls and some insulation. The only great part about a cardboard home is that it is recyclable and the toilet is a composting system that only produces a nutrient rich water that is used for gardening.

According to the website housesofthefuture.com.au, this house is 85 percent recycled materials are used. By creating a home form cardboard it will save 12 cubic meters of landfill, 39 tress and over 30,000 liters of water. There is only a 12 volt battery or a small photovoltaic cell for a power generator. Which will cut on energy bills and save conserve energy.

Car Tire Homes

In New Mexico there is an architect named Mike Reynolds has a specialty when he designs homes. He uses the super efficient mix of rubber tires, dirt and aluminum cans. A rubber tire home is solar powered which has a fireplace as a back up heating system. The walls are three feet thick all made of tires with rammed earth which acts a natural insulation.

Tire House

Reynolds will use over 1,000 tires and each tire used 1 wheelbarrow of earth. Once the home is complete he will sell it for $ 55,000. The home is 1,025 square feet and it is in a circular shape. The spaces that were left by the tires were filled in with bottles and cans for a decorative effect he says. The home has 2 very large solar panels that give off a greenhouse space and home owners can grow their own gardens there as well.

Beer Can House

That’s right, did you know that not only do empty cans of beer make excellent pyramids or towers at frat parties, but you can also build a house out of them! In Houston, Texas the beer can house of John Milkovisch is a standing testament to the art of drunken creativity.

Beer Can House

After his retirement, the late Milkovisch decided to replace the aluminium siding on his home with crushed beer cans. But after downing an average of a six pack per day, John went beyond the siding and began devoling walls, curtains, roofing and fencing. 18 years and 39,000 beers later, the beer can house was finished.

Aluminum Can House

Ron Gobel, an artist in Taos, is building a different type of Aluminum Can House. The house will be constructed of two layers of cans and the cans will be enclosed with fiberglass insulation . There will be over 125,000 containers being used on this home.

The containers are being filled with water and after filling all these containers, Reynolds went to the brewery and bought water filled cans. The cans must be filled otherwise they have no thermal mass. You may be asking your self about heating. The heat storage will be from 4 inch thick steel tanks that will work in conjunction with a huge set of solar panels.

Building a Home From Mud & Weeds

Another strange building material for a home is Mud. Mud homes are built in places like Africa and India were there are not big cities. But mud homes are coming to the United Kingdom very soon. The plans are that bungalows will be built and the roofs and then 3 of the 4 walls will be built with at least a 2 foot layer of mud and earth. The benefit of doing this is that it will cut heating bills and conserve energy.

You may think that mud will just be spattered and it will smell. But contractors plan on decorating the home with flowers and shrubs on the outside of the home of course.

The design is expected to have ceiling to floor and south facing windows which will give the home a great amount of light and it will also allow the home to absorb the heat. The plan is to let the sun do a lot of the heating to the home. There will also be a secondary heating system installed because the sun is not as strong in the winter as it is in the summer.

Rubber House

No, this house is not built from used condoms, but like the tire home mentioned above, industrial strength black rubber is an energy conserving material which keeps homes in cold climates extremely warm by harnessing the power of sunlight and lowering dependency on heating oil.

Stephen Lawrence of Kent, England has built an award winning and stylish home out of black rubber. On this home there is a shed attached to the home, the walls are made from plywood and are insulated to heating and cooling off. They have installed energy efficient windows and the home is solar powered. There is a secondary heating system for the winter but the owners say they do not use much of it.

You don’t think of rubber as a great material for a home but while it is recyclable it does have it’s benefits for heat and energy conservation which helps the environment and it helps the home owner conserve both energy and money.

Log Cabins

One way to give back to the environment is to build your home from logs.

Just like the old days, you can live in a log cabin in the year 2007. Of course the log cabins of today are not the same as they were hundreds of years ago. When you build a log cabin, they can be as elegant as you want. The log cabins of today are not as rustic as they once were and you don’t even have to build a log cabin home in the middle of the woods anymore.

Glass Houses

Have you ever seen a home besides in the movies that was made from all glass? There is one house in New Canaan, Connecticut made from all glass. Besides the obvious privacy issues, this style of home and benefits and non benefits.

Glass House

Glass is 100 percent recyclable which is great for the environment. It will conserve energy as well. The way these homes are constructed there would have to be a secondary heating system because in the winter there would not enough heat. The glass would have to be double paned glass and insulated glass as well, because there is no place for insulation.

A Glass home would be perfect in the summer but I’m not so sure about it being a winter home due to loss of heating, unless it was multi-ply glass. Maybe that is why there are not too many of these homes in the real world.

Tree Houses

There is another glass home in Ashland, Kentucky. What makes this home different then the other glass home is that this home is also a tree house. This house is modern yet rustic. It has glass surrounding the home, not full paned ceiling to floor glass but a good size amount.

Glass Tree House

The house is shapes in a rounded form, it is unlike any other house on the market today. In the kitchen area there is an actual tree that is surrounded by red bricks and plants. By looking at the house which sits behind a gate, it looks normal.

From the back of the home, it sits on a hillside but it is there that the house looks rounded. Other amenities included in this home is that you have a private wooded area with great views. It has a moss garden , a Gazebo and a goldfish pond. In the bathroom it actually has a Japanese soaking rounded tub.

Straw & Cob Homes

Other types of home is a home made from straw bales and adobe cob. This style of home will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There is a stone fireplace in the main room for heating, but you can add a secondary heating system if you choose. The beams and posts are filled with bales straw on edge and will be used as a fill in. The floor plans call for adobe cob floors which will the thermal mass of the home.

Straw Bale House

The straw will be inside the walls acting as insulation so you don’t see it. The straw will be kept dry so you don’t have that strange smell when it rains. The straw is a great insulator and a perfect choice to help with a green home. By using the straw it will cut down on the energy bills. The fire place will cut down on electric. These homes can be solar powered for extra savings.

You may have heard of the word cob before but you may only associate it with corn. But cob is a material that is made from clay, sand and straw, made the material very environmentally friendly. You can use cob for any season and wit will do what it should for each. In the summer it will keep the home cool, in the winter it will keep your home warm. It worked back in the day where cob was extremely popular because of the strong materials, because people in yesteryear did not think of the environment at all.

So, Do We All Have to Live in Mud Houses?

With the world’s energy resources being used up faster then ever and thereby creating the Global Warming effect. We as human beings should do more than we are doing to help save the environment.

We are not saying everyone should live in a mud home but by using less energy, recycling and getting your car inspected can help a tremendous amount.

More people are becoming environmentally conscious and some look to create a home made from logs, mud, straw, rubber, rubber tires, aluminum cans and cob.

The world would be a better place if more people did this but it is not plausible or logical to think that it may ever happen but as long as we do what we can, we know we are making a difference.

Source: improvementweb.com

Here is a tip taken from buildfromtrash.com on how to make tire foundations and how it can be made easier. 

After the trailer was situated, got an electric pole (soon we will get off the grid ) and had a 170’ water well drilled. This allowed us to hook up our 1988 Class C RV onto the land where we lived for 1 and 1/2 years while we worked to make the house habitable. Before we could really begin work on the actual house, we had to excavate a 6’ by 55’ long section of the hill that rested on the back side of the trailer. Once that initial excavation was finished (it took about 4 months) we began to simultaneously lay the first tire/wall foundation against the hill and build a frame for the roof over the leaky trailer. 

The tire filling and tamping was made much easier after we cut off one of the side walls with a saws-all (aka reciprocating saw) . We laid the cut and empty tires in a row and filled them with the clay that we excavated from the hill. After each 5 gallon bucket full of clay (it takes at least 5 buckets to fill one tire), using an 8” tamper, we pounded the clay until it was flat and hard. After the tires are filled to the brim, they become giant, tire-sized clay bricks.

After the first row of tires were packed, we laid another layer, staggered like bricks or blocks — on top of the first and repeated the filling and tamping process. Once the tire wall was finished, we poured a 12” by 6” concrete plate on top of the tire foundation. It was on this plate that we built the frame for the slip forms into which we poured our papercrete slurry. The framing was made from used and found 2x4’s (we tore down old houses in exchange for the lumber and also purchased inexpensive second from a scrapyard where we also got the roofing metal) upon which we attached sections of scrap plywood.

When the papercrete slurry was ready, we poured it into these forms. After about 3 days, we were able to remove the plywood and move them up for another pour. We repeated this process until each 12” thick papercrete wall was completed. In future posts we will describe the process of making and pouring the papercrete. For now, you can visit our photo gallery to see how we transformed our trash into a home.

Source: builtfromtrash.com

Sustainable (Green) Building

Green Building Basics

Buildings account for one-sixth of the world’s fresh water withdrawals, one-quarter of its wood harvest, and two-fifths of its material and energy flows (Roodman and Lenssen, 1995).  Building"green" is an opportunity to use our resources efficiently while creating healthier buildings that improve human health, build a better environment, and provide cost savings.


What Makes a Building Green?

A green building, also known as a sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment.

What Are the Economic Benefits of Green Buildings?

A green building may cost more up front, but saves through lower operating costs over the life of the building. The green building approach applies a project life cycle cost analysis for determining the appropriate up-front expenditure.  This analytical method calculates costs over the useful life of the asset.

These and other cost savings can only be fully realized when they are incorporated at the project’s conceptual design phase with the assistance of an integrated team of professionals. The integrated systems approach ensures that the building is designed as one system rather than a collection of stand-alone systems.

Some benefits, such as improving occupant health, comfort, productivity, reducing pollution and  landfill waste are not easily quantified. Consequently, they are not adequately considered in cost analysis. For this reason, consider setting aside a small portion of the building budget to cover differential costs associated with less tangible green building benefits or to cover the cost of researching and analyzing green building options.

Even with a tight budget, many green building measures can be incorporated with minimal or zero increased up-front costs and they can yield enormous savings (Environmental Building News, 1999).

What Are the Elements of Green Buildings?

Below is a sampling of green building practices.


  • Start by selecting a site well suited to take advantage of mass transit. 
  • Protect and retain existing landscaping and natural features. Select plants that have low water and pesticide needs, and generate minimum plant trimmings. Use compost and mulches. This will save water and time.
  • Recycled content paving materials, furnishings, and mulches help close the recycling loop.

Energy Efficiency

Most buildings can reach energy efficiency levels far beyond California Title 24 standards, yet most only strive to meet the standard. It is reasonable to strive for 40 percent less energy than Title 24 standards. The following strategies contribute to this goal.

  • Passive design strategies can dramatically affect building energy performance. These measures include building shape and orientation, passive solar design, and the use of natural lighting. 
  • Develop strategies to provide natural lighting. Studies have shown that it has a positive impact on productivity and well being.
  • Install high-efficiency lighting systems with advanced lighting controls. Include motion sensors tied to dimmable lighting controls. Task lighting reduces general overhead light levels.
  • Use a properly sized and energy-efficient heat/cooling system in conjunction with a thermally efficient building shell. Maximize light colors for roofing and wall finish materials; install high R-value wall and ceiling insulation; and use minimal glass on east and west exposures.
  • Minimize the electric loads from lighting, equipment, and appliances.
  • Consider alternative energy sources such as photovoltaics and fuel cells that are now available in new products and applications. Renewable energy sources provide a great symbol of emerging technologies for the future.
  • Computer modeling is an extremely useful tool in optimizing design of electrical and mechanical systems and the building shell.

Materials Efficiency

  • Select sustainable construction materials and products by evaluating several characteristics such as reused and recycled content, zero or low off gassing of harmful air emissions, zero or low toxicity, sustainably harvested materials, high recyclability, durability, longevity, and local production.  Such products promote resource conservation and efficiency.  Using recycled-content products also helps develop markets for recycled materials that are being diverted from California’s landfills, as mandated by the Integrated Waste Management Act.
  • Use dimensional planning and other material efficiency strategies.  These strategies reduce the amount of building materials needed and cut construction costs.   For example, design rooms on 4-foot multiples to conform to standard-sized wallboard and plywood sheets. 
  • Reuse and recycle construction and demolition materials.  For example, using inert demolition materials as a base course for a parking lot keeps materials out of landfills and costs less. 
  • Require plans for managing materials through deconstruction, demolition, and construction. 
  • Design with adequate space to facilitate recycling collection and to incorporate a solid waste management program that prevents waste generation.

Water Efficiency

  • Design for dual plumbing to use recycled water for toilet flushing or a gray water system that recovers rainwater or other nonpotable water for site irrigation.
  • Minimize wastewater by using ultra low-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads, and other water conserving fixtures.
  • Use recirculating systems for centralized hot water distribution.
  • Install point-of-use hot water heating systems for more distant locations.
  • Use a water budget approach that schedules irrigation using the California Irrigation Management Information System data for landscaping.
  • Meter the landscape separately from buildings. Use micro-irrigation (which excludes sprinklers and high-pressure sprayers) to supply water in nonturf areas.
  • Use state-of-the-art irrigation controllers and self-closing nozzles on hoses.

Occupant Health and Safety

Recent studies reveal that buildings with good overall environmental quality can reduce the rate of respiratory disease, allergy, asthma, sick building symptoms, and enhance worker performance.  The potential financial benefits of improving indoor environments exceed costs by a factor of 8 and 14 (Fisk and Rosenfeld, 1998).

Choose construction materials and interior finish products with zero or low emissions to improve indoor air quality.  Many building materials and cleaning/maintenance products emit toxic gases, such as volatile organic compounds (VOC) and formaldehyde. These gases can have a detrimental impact on occupants’ health and productivity.

Provide adequate ventilation and a high-efficiency, in-duct filtration system. Heating and cooling systems that ensure adequate ventilation and proper filtration can have a dramatic and positive impact on indoor air quality.

Prevent indoor microbial contamination through selection of materials resistant to microbial growth, provide effective drainage from the roof and surrounding landscape, install adequate ventilation in bathrooms, allow proper drainage of air-conditioning coils, and design other building systems to control humidity.

Building Operation and Maintenance

Green building measures cannot achieve their goals unless they work as intended. Building commissioning includes testing and adjusting the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to ensure that all equipment meets design criteria. It also includes instructing the staff on the operation and maintenance of equipment.

Over time, building performance can be assured through measurement, adjustment, and upgrading. Proper maintenance ensures that a building continues to perform as designed and commissioned.

City of San Diego’s Ridgehaven Green Building

At a glance, the Ridgehaven Building appears identical to its neighbor. In 1996, however, the 73,000 sq ft. Ridgehaven Building was completely renovated with many cost-effective sustainable performance methodologies and technologies. As a result, the Ridgehaven Building now uses 65 percent less total energy than its nearly identical neighbor, yielding a saving of more than $70,000 in annual utility costs. This equates to $1 per sq ft. in annual savings. Even more important, the building occupants love its light and “healthy” atmosphere, boosting their productivity (Gottfried, 1999).

Steps to Ensure Success

  • Establish a vision that embraces sustainable principles and an integrated design approach.
  • Develop a clear statement of the project’s vision, goals, design criteria, and priorities.
  • Develop a project budget that covers green building measures.  Allocate contingencies for additional research and analysis of specific options.  Seek sponsorship or grant opportunities.
  • Seek advice of a design professional with green building experience.
  • Select a design and construction team that is committed to the project vision. Modify the RFQ/RFP selection process to ensure the contractors have appropriate qualifications to identify, select, and implement an integrated system of green building measures.
  • Develop a project schedule that allows for systems testing and commissioning.
  • Develop contract plans and specifications to ensure that the building design is at a suitable level of building performance.
  • Create effective incentives and oversight.

For More Information

You may also order a hard copy of this publication from our catalog.


  1. D.M Roodman and N. Lenssen, A Building Revolution: How Ecology and Health Concerns are Transforming Construction, Worldwatch Paper 124, Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, March 1995, p. 5. (Back)

  2. Environmental Building News, Building Green on a Budget, Vol 8, No. 5, May 1999,  www.ebuild.com/Archives/Features/ Low_Cost/Low_Cost.html#General  (Back)

  3. William Fisk and Arthur Rosenfeld, Potential Nationwide Improvements in Productivity and Health From Better Indoor Environments, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, May 1998. (Back)

  4. Gottfried Technology, excerpt from Web site, www.buildingfutures.com/p3.htm, Feb. 9, 1999. (Back)

Source: calrecycle.ca.gov

Sustainable (Green) Building

Green Building Materials


The concept of sustainable building incorporates and integrates a variety of strategies during the design, construction and operation of building projects. The use of green building materials and products represents one important strategy in the design of a building.

Green building materials offer specific benefits to the building owner and building occupants:

  • Reduced maintenance/replacement costs over the life of the building.
  • Energy conservation.
  • Improved occupant health and productivity.
  • Lower costs associated with changing space configurations.
  • Greater design flexibility.

Building and construction activities worldwide consume 3 billion tons of raw materials each year or 40 percent of total global use (Roodman and Lenssen, 1995). Using green building materials and products promotes conservation of dwindling nonrenewable resources internationally. In addition, integrating green building materials into building projects can help reduce the environmental impacts associated with the extraction, transport, processing, fabrication, installation, reuse, recycling, and disposal of these building industry source materials.

What is a green building product or material?

Green building materials are composed of renewable, rather than nonrenewable resources. Green materials are environmentally responsible because impacts are considered over the life of the product (Spiegel and Meadows, 1999)Depending upon project-specific goals, an assessment of green materials may involve an evaluation of one or more of the criteria listed below.

Green building material/product selection criteria

This information was based on Lynn Froeschle’s article, “Environmental Assessment and Specification of Green Building Materials" (Adobe PDF, 1.4 MB), in the October 1999 issue of The Construction Specifier, a publication for members of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Selection criteria similar to what is presented below was also used for the East End Project as identified in the Review of Construction Projects Using Sustainable Materials.

Overall material/product selection criteria:

Resource Efficiency can be accomplished by utilizing materials that meet the following criteria:

  • Recycled Content: Products with identifiable recycled content, including postindustrial content with a preference for postconsumer content.
  • Natural, plentiful or renewable: Materials harvested from sustainably managed sources and preferably have an independent certification (e.g., certified wood) and are certified by an independent third party.
  • Resource efficient manufacturing process:Products manufactured with resource-efficient processes including reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste (recycled, recyclable and or source reduced product packaging), and reducing greenhouse gases.
  • Locally available: Building materials, components, and systems found locally or regionally saving energy and resources in transportation to the project site.
  • Salvaged, refurbished, or remanufactured: Includes saving a material from disposal and renovating, repairing, restoring, or generally improving the appearance, performance, quality, functionality, or value of a product.
  • Reusable or recyclable: Select materials that can be easily dismantled and reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.
  • Recycled or recyclable product packaging: Products enclosed in recycled content or recyclable packaging.
  • Durable: Materials that are longer lasting or are comparable to conventional products with long life expectancies.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is enhanced by utilizing materials that meet the following criteria:

  • Low or non-toxic: Materials that emit few or no carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, or irritants as demonstrated by the manufacturer through appropriate testing.
  • Minimal chemical emissions: Products that have minimal emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Products that also maximize resource and energy efficiency while reducing chemical emissions.
  • Low-VOC assembly: Materials installed with minimal VOC-producing compounds, or no-VOC mechanical attachment methods and minimal hazards.
  • Moisture resistant: Products and systems that resist moisture or inhibit the growth of biological contaminants in buildings.
  • Healthfully maintained: Materials, components, and systems that require only simple, non-toxic, or low-VOC methods of cleaning.
  • Systems or equipment: Products that promote healthy IAQ by identifying indoor air pollutants or enhancing the air quality.

Energy Efficiency can be maximized by utilizing materials and systems that meet the following criteria:

  • Materials, components, and systems that help reduce energy consumption in buildings and facilities. (See Green Building Basics for more information.)

Water Conservation can be obtained by utilizing materials and systems that meet the following criteria:

  • Products and systems that help reduce water consumption in buildings and conserve water in landscaped areas. (See Green Building Basics for more information.)

Affordability can be considered when building product life-cycle costs are comparable to conventional materials or as a whole, are within a project-defined percentage of the overall budget. (SeeEnvironmental and Economic Assessment Tools for links to resources.)

Three basic steps of product selection

Product selection can begin after the establishment of project-specific environmental goals. The environmental assessment process for building products involves three basic steps(Froeschle, 1999)

1. ResearchThis step involves gathering all technical information to be evaluated, including manufacturers’ information such as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) test data, product warranties, source material characteristics, recycled content data, environmental statements, and durability information. In addition, this step may involve researching other environmental issues, building codes, government regulations, building industry articles, model green building product specifications, and other sources of product data. Research helps identify the full range of the project’s building material options.

2. EvaluationThis step involves confirmation of the technical information, as well as filling in information gaps. For example, the evaluator may request product certifications from manufacturers to help sort out possible exaggerated environmental product claims. Evaluation and assessment is relatively simple when comparing similar types of building materials using the environmental criteria. For example, a recycled content assessment between various manufacturers of medium density fiberboard is a relatively straightforward “apples to apples” comparison. However, the evaluation process is more complex when comparing different products with the same function. Then it may become necessary to process both descriptive and quantitative forms of data.

A life cycle assessment (LCA) is an evaluation of the relative “greenness” of building materials and products. LCA addresses the impacts of a product through all of its life stages. Although rather simple in principle, this approach has been difficult and expensive in actual practice (although that appears to be changing).

One tool that uses the LCA methodology is BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) software. It allows users to balance the environmental and economic performance of building products. The software was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Building and Fire Research Laboratory and can be downloaded free on their Web site.

3. Selection. This step often involves the use of an evaluation matrix for scoring the project-specific environmental criteria. The total score of each product evaluation will indicate the product with the highest environmental attributes. Individual criteria included in the rating system can be weighted to accommodate project-specific goals and objectives.


  1. Lynn M. Froeschle, “Environmental Assessment and Specification of Green Building Materials,”The Construction Specifier, October 1999, p. 53. (Back)
  2. D.M.Roodmanand N. Lenssen,A Building Revolution: How Ecology and Health Concerns are Transforming Construction, Worldwatch Paper 124, Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C., March 1995, p. 5.(Back)
  3. RossSpiegel and Dru Meadows,Green Building Materials: A Guide to Product Selection and Specification, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1999. (Back)
Source: calrecycle.ca.gov
  • Question: what kind of materials can we use to build a recycled house, other than car tyres? - Anonymous
  • Answer:

    Green Building Materials

    Recycled lumber can be used for studs. Insulation made of recycled jean material may be used for walls. Many of the plastic wood products are made from recycled material. Materials that last a lifetime reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills — and save resources that would otherwise be used to replace them. These products include cement board siding, stone and brick, and stand and seam metal roofing. It is also important to use materials that don’t release toxins (labeled LOW-VOC for paints and formaldehyde-free for particleboard).

    you can find more information here:



What’s made of plastic, the size of Hawaii, and powered by wind and solar energy? If Dutch architect Ramon Knoester succeeds with his vision, it will be Recycled Island, a sustainable, floating society constructed from a collection of all the Pacific’s floating plastic debris.

WIDE ANGLE: Drowning in Plastic

Koester went public with his ideas for Recycled Island, which would support its own agriculture, a community of inhabitants, and even tourists from its position somewhere between Hawaii and San Francisco, in 2009. His firm, Whim Architecture, is now in the process of designing a prototype of the 10,000-square-kilometer habitat with a grant from the Netherlands Architecture Fund (according to the firm’s website).

SLIDE SHOW: The Great Atlantic Garbage Patch


Still, Koester estimates it will take years once they begin gathering plastic in from the Pacific before they have enough to melt together (using solar power) into the island, as he told CTV News. No one really has any idea how much debris is out there. Though the media tends to refer to the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” as a floating island of sorts, sometimes even saying it is nearly twice the size of the continental United States, other sources disagree. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a thorough article about “De-Mystifying the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’

Regardless, even that article agrees that plastics make up most of the debris found in the ocean, and Recycled Island could be one creative solution for how to clean up and reuse some of it. Seaweed and compost toilets will make the island fertile, and the living arrangements are envisioned as urban, mixed-use. Since the city will be floating, Whim plans to keep the residents’ connection to the water, with a canal-heavy design. It will be powered by solar and wave energy, with the aim of having zero negative environmental impact and remaining completely self-sustainable.

BLOG: Sen. James Eldridge Discusses the Pacific Garbage Patch

About a half million residents –- slightly less than the population of Baltimore -– could reside on Recycled Island. Though I’m sure they could come up with some interesting reasons for moving there (shipwrecked, saw oasis, got turned on to solar farming?), the project itself will likely remain in the economic red. Just cleaning up the ocean before building begins is a gargantuan task of time, energy and expense that’s simply mind-boggling.

For more about plastic pollution in the Pacific and the ongoing saga of the “garbage patch,” check out the news responses from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and this interview with a Scripps Institution of Oceanography Ph.D. student who went aboard an NOAA ship that was studying plastic debris in the Pacific.

Image: Whim Architecture


Source: news.discovery.com


“Soup:Refused” by Mandy Barker
Ingredients: plastic oceanic debris affected by the chewing and attempted ingestion by animals, including a toothpaste tube additives: teeth from animals

‘Soup’ is a description that is given to the plastic debris that is suspended in the sea. it is a title which makes particular reference
to the mass accumulation of refuse that exists in the area of the north pacific ocean, also known as the ‘garbage patch’. 

Source: designboom.com
Photo Set


If you ever think that Pasig River is the murkiest body of water you’ve ever seen, well you have to contemplate again. Because in the middle of the mysterious ocean, where waters from two different continents meet, a water turned into island is floating at its own will! Wow, that sounded so democratically amazing! Dandananan! *trumpet* Welcome to The Great Pacific Garbage Patch!

You know, when the countries in the Northern Pacific Ring of Fire throw their garbage in the water, it ends up in the middle of the sea from where the currents pull it to the same place called the North Pacific Gyre! Don’t worry, it’s just a couple of miles away from our country and the size of that man-made island is just almost seven times the size of the Philippines; that excludes a thin film of plastic that is as big as the U.S.A. Ain’t that too small? And fret not, because it gets worse!

Take the liberty to step on that forsaken island and you’ll surely tumble in layers and layers and layers and layers and layers and layers and layers and layers and layers of trash! Just imagine yourself as Manny Villar as he swims in his Dagat ng Basura and you’ll definitely enjoy your trip!


Photo courtesy: Google.ph

Source: johncdincutie


“…in 10,000 years scientists might find a layer of plastic in the ground and use this as evidence of “the plastic people.”

The great pacific garbage patch increased by 100. Is this how you want to be remembered?

Source: MSN